Uninterrupted Power Costs Millions To CEB
By Dinouk Colombage
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is facing losses amounting to millions in order to provide the country with uninterrupted electricity, according to Power and Energy Minister, Patali Champika Ranawaka.
Ranawaka explained that Sri Lanka is able to achieve this uninterrupted power supply due to the increased reliance on thermal energy. “Currently 80% of our energy usage is provided by thermal energy while only 20% is produced through the hydro power plants”, he said. Ranawaka admitted that this was the lowest level of hydro electric energy consumption Sri Lanka has seen. “As a country we have never seen our hydro electric energy production drop below 30%”, he added. The Minister went on to explain that the energy cost for a single unit of thermal energy is Rs. 62, while currently the Ceylon Electricity Board sells electricity at Rs. 16 per unit. “We are losing on average Rs. 46 per unit for the production of thermal energy, while our total energy consumption (including hydro electricity) costs Rs. 22 which sees us lose in total Rs. 6 per unit”, he said.
Ranawaka pointed out that the cost of producing energy is high as there are over 5 million users. “In 1996 when the country experienced power cuts there were 1.3 million users. We now have 5 million users and we are still producing an uninterrupted supply”, he said. The minister explained that the ministry took the decision to continue providing the unlimited electricity supply as they believed that high losses incurred by the CEB would be outweighed by the economic growth the country would experience. “Currently the South East Asian region (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) are all suffering power cuts due to their governments not providing electricity 24/7. During this period you will see that Sri Lanka’s economic growth has been faster than those nations as our industries have not had the issue of dealing with power cuts”, he said. Ranawaka explained that the ministry had launched an education program for the public, which would help them, better understand the necessity to conserve energy.
“Right now with this unlimited power supply the population does not understand the need to conserve electricity. We are now looking to educate them on this topic so that our energy consumption will decrease”, he said. The Minister added that there are no plans in place to enforce any restriction on energy consumption. “We have seen cities such as New Delhi restrict the use of air-conditioning. We will not be doing the same as we believe the ministry can educate the people and help naturally reduce consumption”, he concluded.